Department of Biology
Graduate Group: Immunology
Thesis Topic: Regulation of positive selection and lineage commitment during thymocyte development
Dr. Punt is an immunologist working with undergraduates to understand the molecular basis for negative selection - a process that is central to the ability to rid developing T lymphocytes of autoreactive cells. Specifically, she is interested in the molecular reasons that immature T lymphocytes respond to strong receptor signals by dying, whereas their direct descendants, mature single positive T cells, respond to the same signals by proliferating. This marked difference in response is at the heart of the ability of the immune system to respond to infection without harming self.